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Asian ‘Top Chef’ Competitions Showcase U.S. Ingredients

Chefs prepare dishes using Alaskan seafood during the Shanghai preliminary competition Mar. 6-8, 2013.  The “United Tastes of America – Asian Chef Challenge” competitions aim to promote U.S. products among the food service sectors and consumers in these Asian markets as well as highlight the skills of creative Asian chefs. (Courtesy Photo)

Chefs prepare dishes using Alaskan seafood during the Shanghai preliminary competition Mar. 6-8, 2013. The “United Tastes of America – Asian Chef Challenge” competitions aim to promote U.S. products among the food service sectors and consumers in these Asian markets as well as highlight the skills of creative Asian chefs. (Courtesy Photo)

In the United States, “March Madness” refers to the frenzied college basketball tournaments where teams must win or go home. Culinary masters throughout Asia experienced their own version of “madness” in March by squaring off in the kitchen for a chance to compete in the inaugural “United Tastes of America – Asian Chef Challenge.” The finals of the competition will take place at the 2013 Taipei International Food Show’s USA Pavilion in June. Read more »

SuperTracker Announces New My Foods Feature

It’s been a little over a year since we first launched SuperTracker, and in that time we’ve loved hearing from our now over 2 million registered users – what they like about the site and ideas to make it better. We’re excited to announce a new SuperTracker feature that is based on user feedback!  It’s now possible to create My Foods – customized versions of SuperTracker foods with nutrition information that you enter.  When you search for a food in Food Tracker, just click on “customize” in the left hand column and Create My Food pops up. Nestlé Water North America created an educational Daily Buzz TV segment which reached 1.2 million viewers, as well as two Audio News Releases, which aired on nearly 1,900 stations.

Read more »

Rain, Snow or Shine – Spring Foods Are Here!

Spring foods infographic (click for larger version) with more facts, figures and food safety tips.

Spring foods infographic (click for larger version) with more facts, figures and food safety tips.

Although in some parts of the country record snow fall and colder temperatures have masked it—spring is officially here.  With the change of seasons come traditions and observances that date back to ancient times, many focused on growth, new life and change.  Among these traditions are some holiday and seasonal mainstays that evolved because of more practical reasons, like the process involved in making them or their chemical properties. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Partnering with Communities to Alleviate Poverty

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture we’re working hard to strengthen the economy across rural America – and in recent years, we have seen positive signs of growth.

At the same time, we know that areas of high poverty still exist, and many of these are in our small towns and rural communities. In fact, nine out of ten persistent poverty counties in our nation are in rural America.

That’s why USDA launched the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative.

Through StrikeForce, we provide intensive care for communities that suffer from high poverty. USDA identifies areas with over 20 percent poverty for the StrikeForce effort. We join together with communities in these areas that are working to build opportunity for their citizens. Our staff partner with local organizations and civic leaders, providing them with technical support and assistance to help them successfully apply for USDA programs. Read more »

Deputy Under Secretary Visits StrikeForce State of Mississippi, Says Public-Private Partnerships Build a Stronger Rural America

Earlier this week, USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien met with local and regional officials in Mississippi to discuss ways USDA can help businesses create jobs and stimulate local economies. Mississippi was one of the first states in the nation to be designated a StrikeForce state by USDA and last Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch its “StrikeForce” initiative in ten additional states.

The primary goal of the StrikeForce initiative is to increase partnership with rural communities and leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas. Vilsack noted that through the StrikeForce initiative, USDA will do more to partner with local and state governments and community organizations on projects that promote economic development and job creation. Read more »

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Is eating healthy too expensive? It doesn’t have to be if you are willing to follow three simple reminders — Plan, Compare and Prepare.   If you follow these, you and your family can save money and eat healthier.

USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov includes information to help consumers like you get started toward a healthier lifestyle that can fit just about anyone’s budget.  The tips and resources available can make it easier to control what you eat and how much you spend.

Consider these tips to get you started:

  • Plan
    Before you go shopping, take 15-20 minutes each week to plan your meals and make a grocery list of what and how much to buy.  Consider breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week.  Easy to fix recipes are available online.  Include foods and beverages from the five food groups so you can get the nutrients you need.  Read the Nutrition Facts label on the packaging, and go easy on foods with added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.  Consider meals like soups, salads, stews, or even stir-fries to “stretch” expensive items into more portions.
  • Compare
    Check the local paper or search online for coupons, sales and specials.  Use store loyalty cards and always bring your grocery list. For double savings, use manufacturer coupons during a store sale.  Take time to compare unit prices listed on shelves to ensure you are getting the best price. Try to do your grocery shopping when you are not hungry and not too rushed. This will help you avoid impulse buying and convenience foods which will increase your food bill.
  • Prepare
    Cut up fresh fruits and vegetables for quick snacks.  Prepare meals that can be done in advance.  Double up your recipes and freeze the leftovers for meals later in the week. For example, last night’s roasted chicken can easily become chicken salad or a chicken quesadilla later in the week.

Eating healthier and spending less is a breeze if you follow these tips to Plan before you shop, Compare options to find the best price, and Prepare meals that stay within your budget. Check out this press release for more information about how the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to help Americans eat healthier on a budget. For more helpful tips, check out our new 10 tips sheet: Eating better on a budget: 10 tips to help you stretch your food dollars.